CIOs still struggling to manage cloud use

 Although companies apply ITSM processes to in-house IT, cloud services are more likely to be managed by providers

Research has revealed that 85 per cent of CIOs think the cloud is preventing organisations from having control over their IT network.

A study by Fruition Partners revealed that cloud services are much less commonly managed by IT service management (ITSM) processes compared to other in-house IT services, which are, on average, managed by six processes.

Much of this is down to IT maturity, Fruition Partners said, but the gap and could have a negative impact on the way entire organisations are managed. In fact, 80 per cent of CIOs interviewed by the company said they do not apply the same comprehensive ITSM processes to the cloud as they do for other in-house IT services.

“The maturity of cloud services has started to improve, but it is still leagues away from where it needs to be,” said Paul Cash, managing partner of Fruition Partners UK. “There has to be a recognition that the need for rigorous management is greater, not less, in the cloud.”

Furthermore, the research revealed 73 per cent of CIOs are happily handing over both change management and cloud application management controls to cloud providers and vendors, which means the IT department as a whole has less control over their organisation.

He added that CIOs cannot trust that public cloud services will work flawlessly and be delivered perfectly at all times and therefore should be wary about handing responsibility over to providers without ensuring ITSM principles are applied, because if they do not check there are sufficient safeguards in place, they open themselves up to blame if one of the services fails.

“CIOs should still be managing cloud services internally, rather than abdicating responsibility to the provider. Otherwise they risk losing control, and increasing both cost and risk to themselves and the business,” he added.

Shadow IT is also a concern for CIOs, Fruition Partners’ research revealed. 66 per cent of the respondents said there was an increasing culture of shadow IT in their company and 68 per cent of CIOs reported the organisation doesn’t ask for advice before buying public cloud-based services.

“Organisations have the tools at hand to ensure IT services are delivered consistently, comprehensively, and without risk. By failing to apply these tools to the cloud, they are doing themselves a major disservice,” Cash continued.

“The longer business spend without unifying their approach to both cloud and in-house IT, the harder managing IT will become. Dealing with this is relatively easy in the short term; simply ensuring that ITSM processes are unified across in-house and cloud services will reduce a great number of the challenges and risks associated with cloud.”


Source: still struggling to manage cloud use

A two-speed IT strategy for the digital era

As the business world gets rapidly digitized, the practice of “bimodal IT” is gaining popularity. For CIOs who want to keep up with the latest trends in technology, it is important to understand what the term, coined by Gartner, actually means. Bimodal IT is the practice of maintaining two distinct modes — Mode 1 and Mode 2 — of IT delivery. Mode 1 is more traditional, with a focus on stability, while Mode 2 is more exploratory, with a focus on agility.

In this webcast presentation, Kurt Marko, analyst at MarkoInsights, discusses how the era of digitization is driving the idea of two-speed IT. Read on to find out about the important differences between the two modes, the role of cloud services in a bimodal IT strategy, and why IT shops need to be able to develop digital IT products in an uncertain environment.

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of the first of four excerpts of Marko’s webcast presentation on two-speed IT. It has been edited for clarity and length.

The term “bimodal IT” was coined by Gartner in 2014. And like many of the buzzwords that Gartner coins, it quickly became a very commonly used phrase, and, of course, they were instrumental in promoting that through their venues or their conferences and white papers.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people ended up hearing the term “bimodal” — and it does seem sort of stark when you hear it — and it sounds like a psychological disorder. But it’s not any of that, and it’s not nearly as threatening as some people seem to make it out to be. But hopefully after the next 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll understand why.

It really defines two modes of IT where, as I say, they are creatively named Mode 1 and Mode 2. But they’re basically categories to describe different characteristics for IT systems and applications, the operating characteristics, the business requirements, the business environment even.

What is the first mode of two-speed IT?

And the notion is Mode 1 would be what most people would consider traditional IT: your big business systems, your ERP, your finance, your HR, those mission-critical systems that really have defined IT for decades. And IT as a discipline grew up around these systems. In fact, actually the way I got into IT out ofproduct development and engineering was as IT was becoming formalized as a discipline, and it looked like it was an attractive opportunity for me both professionally and just intellectually.

But … many, many businesses have become IT-centric, where IT, instead of being just an operator of critical infrastructure, is now an instrumental part of the business itself.

Kurt Markoanalyst, MarkoInsights

And IT became synonymous with conservative, keep it running, but let’s not take too many risks because the business could be at stake if we mess up. And that worked fine for many, many years. Unfortunately, as the business environments have changed dramatically, through the internet, there have been many catalysts, internet, mobility, consumerization of technology. But … many, many businesses have become IT-centric, where IT, instead of being just an operator of critical infrastructure, is now an instrumental part of the business itself.

What is the second mode of bimodal IT?

And this is where Mode 2 comes in, and it’s a concept Gartner calls the digitization of business. We’ll look at that in a bit. But this type of environment is characterized by digital applications that really take their cue almost from the mobile and the internet world, where things have to be fast, agile, fail-fast, continuous delivery, you have new ideas that need to be tested and implemented at at least a very initial stage rapidly. And it focuses on cloud services and design as vehicles for the deployment. Often, it includes mobile as the target application platform.

And this is partly where some of the confusion about bimodal IT has come in because cloud services are really instrumental in these Mode 2 applications, because they allow developers and businesses to both create rapidly and deploy at any scale desired. And so many people consider Mode 2 synonymous with cloud, Mode 1 synonymous with on premises. That’s not the case, and we’ll get into some of the subtleties of why in a bit..

Two-speed IT delivery model driven by digital economy

As I mentioned, digital business is driving this notion of two-speed IT. And that’s really what this whole Mode 2-Mode 1 dichotomy is about. It’s about having a set of applications that are run conservatively, but it’s important to understand they’re not on life support. And [then there is] another set of applications which need to be developed, deployed very rapidly but where failure is an option and getting it right the first time or getting it perfect isn’t an absolute requirement.

Explaining this rationale for bimodal IT, Gartner talks about this notion of different eras of IT. And the Mode 1 is characterized by this industrial manufacturing line, kind of the Henry Ford era of IT, where it’s about minimizing risk, planning, being predictable, doing it right, maintaining control, reliability, stability.

However, in this era, this digital business era, which they call a third era, there are very different business drivers and that prompts different behaviors. And they characterize the challenges and the activities that IT and businesses need to be capable of the following five [things]:

  • Absorbing new business models rapidly. Being able to adapt to a changing digital environment.
    Being able to scale up and down rapidly again, and this gets to some of thecloud discussion, but the notion that a successful product may grow demand, like a hockey stick, or it may have very seasonal demands.
    You have to be able to react both over time and to events as they call them, “business moments,” whether you have a promotional campaign that’s going to coincide with the Super Bowl or the Oscars or some big event that you’re focusing on, or you have a product that gets mentioned on Oprah Winfrey and suddenly demand has shot through the roof.
    You also have to be able to support different business models. And as we know, the internet and the digital business era we’re in now, whether it’s sharing services like Uber, and Airbnb, or different distribution channels for media like Spotify or digital content books, you have to be able to support different ways of monetizing your digital assets.
  • And you have to be able do this in an environment where you don’t necessarily understand ahead of time what’s going to work and what’s not. And so you have to be comfortable in developing digital IT products in this environment of uncertainty.

Source: two-speed IT strategy for the digital era

ITSM: The ‘what’ and ‘how’ of digital transformation

When it comes to digital transformation, the question is not just whether organisations are ready for it but how they will carry it out.

Digital transformation is defined as the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of society – from government to mass communications and from art to medicine and science.

Two steps to digital transformation

In business there are two steps to every digital transformation plan: the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. The ‘what’ are the digital initiatives needed to achieve transformational change and the ‘how’ is ensuring this transformational change delivers business results.

We recently conducted a survey at the SITS 2016 conference in London, which showed that mobility and IT service management (ITSM) is key to executing digital transformation strategies. Over half the SITS survey respondents, who were mostly CIOs and business decision makers, said they are ‘nearly ready’, followed by 19 per cent who said they are ‘neither ready or not’. In contrast, only 16 per cent said they were ‘completely ready’.

When it comes to digital transformation, mobility is key. While most organisations have implemented an enterprise mobility strategy, risk, and security concerns are still preventing organisations from realising value from it. Having the right tools to manage risk and ensure security has never been more important.

Over half of respondents said mobile ITSM is somewhat important to their digital transformation plans while just over a quarter said it’s ‘highly important’. In the middle, just 12 percent said mobile ITSM was ‘neither important or not important’ while the naysayers who said it was ‘not very important’ or ‘not relevant’ were 7 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Some of the key reasons why ITSM is changing the workplace of the future include the fact that service quality and customer satisfaction have become the biggest technology priorities for organisations. ITSM is moving away from ‘budget driven’ IT legacy whilst transforming IT into service brokers.

Despite the recognition of the importance of mobile ITSM by the majority of respondents, 34 per cent said they don’t have the right mobility and ITSM tools to operate in a digital world. Though the majority (48 per cent) said they have the right tools with only 19 per cent saying they weren’t sure.

In addition to the tools, organisations also need to ensure that they recruit the right people skilled in mobile app provision, mobile app development and management and mobile content management in order to accelerate their mobile strategies.

Given organisations are faced with new challenges introduced by mobility such as mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM), they need the right tools.

Device and application management solutions can benefit businesses in numerous ways, including enabling them to automate business process flows and approvals that are mobile first in approach, ensure licence compliance across multiple operating systems platforms and make real time cost allocations of apps and services.

ITSM: A key investment

ITSM is also one of the key spending areas, the survey found. The majority of respondents said budgets are likely to increase over the next 12 months for security, followed by ITSM, compliance, mobility, hardware, OS upgrades and ID and access management. However, in all of those categories, some respondents said spending is likely to stay the same. Participants said the biggest decrease in spending will be in hardware and OS upgrades.

The majority of respondents said they will be working on ITSM projects over the next 12 months, followed by security and mobile workforce management.

So why does ITSM rank so highly with respondents in terms of spending? They outlined the key benefits of ITSM as:

  • Improvement of service
  • Reduction of costs
  • Improvement self-service
  • Automation

By helping businesses improve their processes, ITSM meets some of the main objectives of digital transformation, which include driving employee productivity and improving innovation. In the 21st Century, it’s all about collaboration, which is why a human-centric approach to digital transformation is vital. This goes beyond automation replacing manual tasks to equipping employees with the right information at the right time and on the right platform whether that’s their laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

So it’s not just merely a question of whether businesses are ready for digital transformation but how they’re going to execute it.

Source: ITproportal-ITSM: The ‘what’ and ‘how’ of digital transformation

10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros

Today’s IT pro needs both technical expertise and soft skills — that’s nothing new. But the scope of those in-demand soft skills just keeps growing.

Depending on which company you talk to, there are varying demands for IT technical skills. But there is one common need that most IT organizations have: soft skills. This need is nothing new. As early as three decades ago corporate IT sought out liberal arts graduates to become business and systems analysts so they could “bridge the communications gap” between programmers and end users. And if you look at the ranks of CIOs, almost half have backgrounds in liberal arts.

So what are the soft skills areas that companies want to see in IT professionals today?

1: Deal making and meeting skills
IT is a matchup of technology and people to produce products that run the company’s business. When people get involved, there are bound to be disagreements and a need to arrive at group consensus. IT’ers who can work with people, find a common ground so projects and goals can be agreed to, and swallow their own egos in the process if need be are in high demand.

2: Great communication skills
The ability to read, write, and speak clearly and effectively will never go out of style — especially in IT. IT project annals are filled with failed projects that were good ideas but poorly communicated.

3: A sixth sense about projects
There are formal project management programs that teach people PM methodology. But for most people, it takes several years of project management experience to develop an instinct for how a project is really going. Natural project managers have this sixth sense. In many cases, it is simply a talent that can’t be taught. But when an IT executive discovers a natural project manager who can “read” the project in the people and the tasks, this person is worth his/her weight in gold.

4: Ergonomic sensitivity
Because its expertise is technical, it is difficult for IT to understand the point of view of a nontechnical user or the conditions in the field that end users face. A business analyst who can empathize with end users, understand the business conditions they work in, and design graphical user interfaces that are easy to learn and use is an asset in application development.

5: Great team player
It’s easy for enclaves of IT professionals to remain isolated in their areas of expertise. Individuals who can transcend these technical silos and work for the good of the team or the project are valued for their ability to see the big picture. They are also viewed as candidates for promotions.

6: Political smarts
Not known as a particularly politically astute group, IT benefits when it hires individuals who can forge strong relationships with different constituencies throughout the company. This relationship building facilitates project cooperation and success.

7: Teaching, mentoring, and knowledge sharing
IT’ers able to teach new applications to users are invaluable in project rollouts. They are also an asset as teaching resources for internal IT. If they can work side by side with others and provide mentoring and support, they become even more valuable — because the “real” IT learning occurs on the job and in the trenches. Central to these processes is the willingness to share and the ability to listen and be patient with others as they learn.

8: Resolving “gray” issues
IT likes to work in binary (black and white). Unfortunately, many of the people issues that plague projects are “gray.” There is no right or wrong answer, but there is a need to find a place that everyone is comfortable with. Those who can identify and articulate the problem, bring it out in the open, and get it solved are instrumental in shortening project snags and timelines.

9: Vendor management
Few IT or MA programs teach vendor management — and even fewer IT’ers want to do this. But with outsourcing and vendor management on the rise, IT pros with administrative and management skills who can work with vendors and ensure that SLAs (service level agreements) and KPIs (key performance indicators) are met bring value to performance areas where IT is accountable. They also have great promotion potential.

10: Contract negotiation
The growth of cloud-based solutions has increased the need for contract negotiation skills and legal knowledge. Individuals who bring this skills package to IT are both recognized and rewarded, often with highly paid executive positions.

Source: TechRepublic-10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros By Mary Shacklett

Ensure a successful IT infrastructure monitoring tools integration

Data center tool integration projects don’t end when you finish linking up systems. Without testing and regular maintenance, integrations quickly fall apart.

The hardest part of some projects — especially those involving multiple data sources, formats and interdependencies — is the finish.

Data-center-wide integrations require keen knowledge of all the IT infrastructure monitoring tools involved, including data formats, API use and so on. The setup must be carefully tested even if the IT team and/or consulting company followed best practices. And the integration project is never completely done, as interconnections are easily broken when patches, updates and new systems are introduced.

Test behaviors between tools

Regardless of the integration mechanism — API, plug-in, agent, email, simple network management protocol or even out-of-the-box compatibility — test each element thoroughly to ensure that a tool accesses data as expected. This is crucial when the connection method depends on specific configuration details like a server email address, IP address or protocol.

Integrating two or more IT infrastructure monitoring tools can be tricky, and tests show that you got it right. Test behaviors between the tools to verify they behave as expected. If you integrate Nagios monitoring and management alerts into the Spiceworks help desk tool, for example, Spiceworks remains the principal ticketing system in the enterprise. Configuring the email and parser code in Spiceworks is difficult depending on common message elements from the sending system. Once the setup is finished, trigger an email from Nagios to test if Spiceworks acknowledges and acts on the alert. If not, re-examine your integration work.

Don’t just check that it reads data successfully; make sure the tool correctly processes and reports on data. If not, a normal log data entry could trigger false positive alerts, or performance data could skew graphical reports.

There is such a thing as too much communication. Agents, coding with software development kits and other integration mechanisms don’t always guarantee good performance. Busy networks and high volumes of data or message transfers cause problems. Measure the volume of data or messages and the various sources to check if a single tool can handle everything properly. This takes a bit of testing and refinement in complex environments.

Even the most flexible and highly extensible tools do not guarantee interoperability with other tools or systems. There are so many potential combinations of hardware and software that you’re bound to encounter a tool that won’t work properly with another. Try working with the tool vendor to create a viable plug-in, script or other integration element. If you can’t, redefine or shelve that component of the integration project.

Don’t let change be disruptive

Each connection and integration method creates interdependencies that are easily disrupted by patches and upgrades.

Consider the Nagios-to-Spiceworks integration where Spiceworks parses common text in the subject line of Nagios email messages. If an update or setup change alters how Nagios generates subject lines, then Spiceworks might fail to parse the Nagios messages. While Nagios changed, Spiceworks is the tool that requires a fix for the integration to work.

Upgrading to new versions can also cause problems when tools receive and parse data from each other. If one tool’s latest version moves its log file to a different directory or formats logs differently, another tool that reads the file will need an update to accommodate it.

Server-side changes also strike up problems in a tied-together data center monitoring scheme. For example, Nagios has a plug-in for integrated lights-out (iLO) agentless management on HP ProLiant servers. If HP changes the firmware or system hardware design, the iLO plug-in might need to be updated. Newer servers might not work with older plug-ins, creating issues during a hardware refresh.

Lab testing will ensure compatibility, reveal problems and help with fixes or workarounds. Documentation, change management and testing must accompany any change in the production data center. If changes will break the existing IT monitoring tool integration, reach out to the tool vendor with details and ask if they can assist with troubleshooting and a resolution.

Source: techtarget-Seven ways to reduce waste and accelerate software delivery by Stephen J. Bigelow

BMC’s Remedy for IT Obsolescence

Of the companies I follow, one stands out with the singular mission of assuring that IT doesn’t again become obsolete in the face of ever more powerful direct to line management offerings like Amazon Web Services. Most firms tend to treat Amazon’s offering as a competitor or potential customer and miss that it is actually a very different beast. It isn’t really going after IT as customers for the most part, it is rendering IT obsolete by going after IT’s customers directly. If we were talking about this in terms of sales channels, this would be like talking about what Amazon did to retail; it made the retail store obsolete in order to sell directly to their user customers. In effect, Amazon changed the game. BMC is the only enterprise vendor that has figured out that the proper defense isn’t to fight Amazon or to sell to Amazon — it is to protect IT.

The MyIT effort validates this strategy and the new Remedy 9 platform is the latest in the company’s quiver of arrows designed to help IT defend against obsolescence.

In short, BMC’s goal is to make IT a better choice for employees than any cloud service, partially by embracing them, but mostly by driving IT to focus on making IT’s own customers more satisfied.

IT’s Problem

At the heart of the problem for IT is that, as an internal service organization, it has enjoyed monopoly status until recently. IT could dictate what users and line organizations got in terms of IT services, hardware and software. IT has faced obsolescence several times in the past. The PC revolution had line organizations tossing out their midrange and mainframe products in favor of more agile and often more capable PC spreadsheets, word processors and database tools. Then Client-Server stepped in and the idea of departmental servers again made it look like companies no longer needed IT. Finally, there was the idea of simply outsourcing IT to one of the big technology firms.

Fortunately, in all cases, the advantages of a centralized IT function, with some exceptions, prevailed because IT could assure compliance and uptime, and volume pricing assured cost savings. In addition, the technology firms just couldn’t seem to keep customer satisfaction high enough themselves, allowing IT to step back in and assume its traditional roles of distributing technology services, hardware and software to technology users in the firm.

However, cloud services have turned out to be a very different beast. They seem to find their way around rules and regulations, they tend to be vastly easier to use than IT services, and Amazon is a retailer at heart, with heavy customer satisfaction metrics and related aggressive remedial action.

Amazon and other cloud services have clearly shown that they can do what their predecessors couldn’t: Sustain viable, and often better, long-term working relationships with users at competitive costs to what IT can provide directly. Granted, compliance remains a bridge too far for Amazon at the moment, but that is being worked out and, as we’ve often discovered, line workers and managers often don’t care.

Remedy 9

Remedy 9 is BMC’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform and it is designed to both provide a better interface between users and IT services than Amazon and to link Amazon services in the backend to assure that these services can be used appropriately to contain costs when needed. It doesn’t move to make Amazon Web Services obsolete but to embrace them. Even the underlying concept of the “cloud” is embraced because this can be purchased as a cloud service as well. Even the testing was much like you’d test a commercial consumer product rather than an IT product; over 170 companies and 700 users were part of the beta test, which didn’t just focus on features, it focused on ease of use and beauty. Yes, appearance is important in a user-facing offering, particularly if it is going to be run on a smartphone.

Like Amazon does internally, this offering has rich configurable reporting that showcases performance, cost, compliance, and improvements in productivity. This last is important to justify most any technology acquisition or subscription.

Because users are mobile now, this has been designed to embrace mobile devices as an interface, allowing requests for service from wherever the user is and at virtually any time. And, like Amazon, the user can get full control and generate their own reports, gather metrics, and/or create their own dashboards without having to engage IT at all through the tools Remedy 9 provides.

Wrapping Up: The Importance Isn’t the Product, It Is the Focus

The features and functions of Remedy 9 aren’t the important part of this announcement. It is the continued focus on creating a defense for IT so the function can remain vibrant, important and relevant to the line organizations and related users it serves. By focusing on improving the end users’ efficiency and satisfaction, IT gains an important tool against obsolescence and a powerful answer to the latest question of IT outsourcing.

Sometimes it’s not about the technology, it’s about making sure you don’t become obsolete. We often get so excited about the speeds and feeds that we forget that it’s how, and whether, the product will be used that is important. That wasn’t forgotten here.

Source: itbusinessedge-BMC’s Remedy for IT Obsolescence by Rob Enderle

Now Published: IT Standard for Business – a Model for Business driven IT Management

IT Standard for Business (or IT Standard in short) has been developed to support decision makers both in business and IT to have a holistic picture of how IT should be managed in order to provide maximum value for business. Since the business needs should be the main driver in IT management, the emphasis in the IT Standard is on the cooperation between business and IT.

IT Standard for Business differs from many other IT standards and frameworks because it is simple and written in everyday language. This makes it useful for everyone who wants to understand how IT functions should be governed in an organization. The basic framework illustration, called the grid, gives an overview of the five principle elements of IT management which are the following:

  • Enterprise Development turns business development initiatives into operational actions in IT.
  • Strategy and Governance defines how IT operates and creates value for the business.
  • Sourcing and Supplier Management ensures that the company has the services that best fit its business purposes.
  • Project and Development Management is essential for organizations to improve and create new solutions to succeed in competitive environments.
  • Service Management offers business-aligned services that ensure efficient and uninterrupted business operations.

Read the e-book at: IT Standard for Business – a Model for Business driven IT Management

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